Tag Archives: reparations

HBCU Money™ Histronomics: H.R. 40 – Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act


The bill was written and introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) in January 1989. It was been met with resistance by both Democrats and Republicans.

A BILL

To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

(a) Findings- The Congress finds that–

(1) approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and colonies that became the United States from 1619 to 1865;

(2) the institution of slavery was constitutionally and statutorily sanctioned by the Government of the United States from 1789 through 1865;

(3) the slavery that flourished in the United States constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans’ life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural heritage, and denied them the fruits of their own labor; and

(4) sufficient inquiry has not been made into the effects of the institution of slavery on living African-Americans and society in the United States.

(b) Purpose- The purpose of this Act is to establish a commission to–

(1) examine the institution of slavery which existed from 1619 through 1865 within the United States and the colonies that became the United States, including the extent to which the Federal and State Governments constitutionally and statutorily supported the institution of slavery;

(2) examine de jure and de facto discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil War to the present, including economic, political, and social discrimination;

(3) examine the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and the discrimination described in paragraph (2) on living African-Americans and on society in the United States;

(4) recommend appropriate ways to educate the American public of the Commission’s findings;

(5) recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Commission’s findings on the matters described in paragraphs (1) and (2); and

(6) submit to the Congress the results of such examination, together with such recommendations.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT AND DUTIES.

(a) Establishment- There is established the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the ‘Commission’).

(b) Duties- The Commission shall perform the following duties:

(1) Examine the institution of slavery which existed within the United States and the colonies that became the United States from 1619 through 1865. The Commission’s examination shall include an examination of–

(A) the capture and procurement of Africans;

(B) the transport of Africans to the United States and the colonies that became the United States for the purpose of enslavement, including their treatment during transport;

(C) the sale and acquisition of Africans as chattel property in interstate and instrastate commerce; and

(D) the treatment of African slaves in the colonies and the United States, including the deprivation of their freedom, exploitation of their labor, and destruction of their culture, language, religion, and families.

(2) Examine the extent to which the Federal and State governments of the United States supported the institution of slavery in constitutional and statutory provisions, including the extent to which such governments prevented, opposed, or restricted efforts of freed African slaves to repatriate to their homeland.

(3) Examine Federal and State laws that discriminated against freed African slaves and their descendants during the period between the end of the Civil War and the present.

(4) Examine other forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed African slaves and their descendants during the period between the end of the Civil War and the present.

(5) Examine the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4) on living African-Americans and on society in the United States.

(6) Recommend appropriate ways to educate the American public of the Commission’s findings.

(7) Recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Commission’s findings on the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4). In making such recommendations, the Commission shall address among other issues, the following questions:

(A) Whether the Government of the United States should offer a formal apology on behalf of the people of the United States for the perpetration of gross human rights violations on African slaves and their descendants.

(B) Whether African-Americans still suffer from the lingering effects of the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4).

(C) Whether, in consideration of the Commission’s findings, any form of compensation to the descendants of African slaves is warranted.

(D) If the Commission finds that such compensation is warranted, what should be the amount of compensation, what form of compensation should be awarded, and who should be eligible for such compensation.

(c) Report to Congress- The Commission shall submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Congress not later than the date which is one year after the date of the first meeting of the Commission held pursuant to section 4(c).

SEC. 4. MEMBERSHIP.

(a) Number and Appointment- (1) The Commission shall be composed of 7 members, who shall be appointed, within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, as follows:

(A) Three members shall be appointed by the President.

(B) Three members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(C) One member shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate.

(2) All members of the Commission shall be persons who are especially qualified to serve on the Commission by virtue of their education, training, or experience, particularly in the field of African-American studies.

(b) Terms- The term of office for members shall be for the life of the Commission. A vacancy in the Commission shall not affect the powers of the Commission, and shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

(c) First Meeting- The President shall call the first meeting of the Commission within 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, or within 30 days after the date on which legislation is enacted making appropriations to carry out this Act, whichever date is later.

(d) Quorum- Four members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.

(e) Chair and Vice Chair- The Commission shall elect a Chair and Vice Chair from among its members. The term of office of each shall be for the life of the Commission.

(f) Compensation- (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), each member of the Commission shall receive compensation at the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay payable for GS-18 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, United States Code, for each day, including travel time, during which he or she is engaged in the actual performance of duties vested in the Commission.

(2) A member of the Commission who is a full-time officer or employee of the United States or a Member of Congress shall receive no additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of his or her service to the Commission.

(3) All members of the Commission shall be reimbursed for travel, subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties to the extent authorized by chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code.

SEC. 5. POWERS OF THE COMMISSION.

(a) Hearings and Sessions- The Commission may, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act, hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and at such places in the United States, and request the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, as the Commission considers appropriate. The Commission may request the Attorney General to invoke the aid of an appropriate United States district court to require, by subpoena or otherwise, such attendance, testimony, or production.

(b) Powers of Subcommittees and Members- Any subcommittee or member of the Commission may, if authorized by the Commission, take any action which the Commission is authorized to take by this section.

(c) Obtaining Official Data- The Commission may acquire directly from the head of any department, agency, or instrumentality of the executive branch of the Government, available information which the Commission considers useful in the discharge of its duties. All departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the executive branch of the Government shall cooperate with the Commission with respect to such information and shall furnish all information requested by the Commission to the extent permitted by law.

SEC. 6. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.

(a) Staff- The Commission may, without regard to section 5311(b) of title 5, United States Code, appoint and fix the compensation of such personnel as the Commission considers appropriate.

(b) Applicability of Certain Civil Service Laws- The staff of the Commission may be appointed without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that the compensation of any employee of the Commission may not exceed a rate equal to the annual rate of basic pay payable for GS-18 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, United States Code.

(c) Experts and Consultants- The Commission may procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions of section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, but at rates for individuals not to exceed the daily equivalent of the highest rate payable under section 5332 of such title.

(d) Administrative Support Services- The Commission may enter into agreements with the Administrator of General Services for procurement of financial and administrative services necessary for the discharge of the duties of the Commission. Payment for such services shall be made by reimbursement from funds of the Commission in such amounts as may be agreed upon by the Chairman of the Commission and the Administrator.

(e) Contracts- The Commission may–

(1) procure supplies, services, and property by contract in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations Acts; and

(2) enter into contracts with departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Federal Government, State agencies, and private firms, institutions, and agencies, for the conduct of research or surveys, the preparation of reports, and other activities necessary for the discharge of the duties of the Commission, to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations Acts.

SEC. 7. TERMINATION.

The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the Commission submits its report to the Congress under section 3(c).

SEC. 8. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

To carry out the provisions of this Act, there are authorized to be appropriated $8,000,000.

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The Who, What, Why, and How of HBCU Reparations


“A reform is a correction of abuses, a revolution is a transfer of power.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The top 100 endowments in America have approximately $250 billion. The HBCU Endowment Foundation’s 105 HBCUs combined have approximately $1.5 to $2 billion. That’s over 125 times more. I am calling for education reparations. To keep it as simple as possible I’m asking for the equivalent of African America’s population. That is approximately 15% and would equal to $37.5 billion that would be equally divided amongst African America’s HBCU institutions. Each HWCU would contribute based on their percentage of the $250 billion pie so that schools with larger endowments are putting in more than those with smaller endowments. The even distribution among HBCUs would allow for schools that have been historically underfunded through a myriad of practices by state and social constraints to achieve some level of parity. This money would be used to build much needed economic and physical infrastructure at HBCUs. From buildings, expanding internationally, improved technology, social training, expanded recruitment, research, and most importantly scholarships that would allow HBCUs to compete for talented African American students who on large choose HWCUs based on financial accommodations.

While HBCUs continue to produce over 25% of African America’s college educated population (while being only 3% of all American higher education institutions) the rising cost of education and lack of financial resources is creating a new wealth divide among future generations even more so than before. America as a whole in 2012 will touch the $1 trillion in student loan debt. Couple this with African America losing 83% of its wealth in the Great Recession which now stands at approximately $2,200 median net worth, according to Economic Policy Institute. This in comparison with European America who has approximately $98,000 by EPI statistics and Asian America has approximately $80,000 according to the Pew Research Center. This recipe is destined to have an African America that is educated but so indebted they can never reap any benefits of their education.

We still have not captured the all important emphasis of circulation of social, economic, and political assets. As I stated in “The University of Power & Wealth” there is no greater institution in America perhaps the world that touches on all three of those developmental factors than colleges and universities. The research alone that creates businesses which in turn creates jobs is something African America sorely needs in spades. The social development of a people’s cultural value owned and controlled by them not given to them by opposing forces. Unfortunately, even in my own mind it is hard to sell such an idea when African Americans themselves still in mass seek to gain entrance into institutions that are not in their control and don’t understand the value of it. Stuck in a laborious mindset as opposed to an ownership mindset will continue to impede African America’s development. Something as simple as sending their child there (tuition revenue), donating (alumni), and a host of other self-defeating actions hamper our best opportunity to grow our way out of the cellar.

Instead we’ll continue to try and kick down the door of colleges and universities where we are the minority instead of the majority, maybe control one trustees seat (which still leaves you outnumbered), are not the major donors to the school which leaves you with little say in the direction, and then cry that we are not receiving fair treatment.

In part I believe these reparations are imperative to the institutional survival of HBCUs who continue to be in need of a massive cash infusion. Something we have been unable to achieve since our founding and seemingly have no help from the present government who has actually cut HBCU funding then restored it to a measly $85 million for 105 schools. Of course I also believe that no group in power would ever do anything or has ever done anything to voluntarily relinquish that power so that another group could rise and challenge them which is exactly what an act like this would generate. However, I believe the reparations conversation is still a poignant one worth having.

In the same way that Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger’s, and other major retail businesses act as an anchor store that brings in other stores to retain the dollar in a geographic area the college and universities of America are the same. I pointed out once that in Texas there is no more valuable real estate to be had at the moment other than in College Station and Austin homes of the state’s two major HWCUs. Now imagine if African America had that kind of demand for its own real estate as opposed to the demand many African Americans currently create for European American schools, neighborhoods, and businesses in our desire to be “accepted”.

The major thing that would have to exist in order for me for this to be a reality is that every HBCU would have to have a plan of purpose for using the money. They would also have to agree to keep the money at an African American bank as this too is one of the vital missteps of African America. Not controlling its banking system and then wondering why it receives and abnormal percentage of sub-prime debt but that is another article for another time.

Stop fighting for fairness and justice. These are relative terms and vary greatly depending on what side of the coin you are on. Instead fight for power to determine your own destiny and in order to do this African America must build its institutional power.